Published March 2016
A tough childhood taught Jason Hart how to be resilient, resourceful and reliable. Jason was elected to the Ahtna Board of Directors in 2013 and serves as treasurer. He was recently named a Top 40 Under 40 by the Alaska Journal of Commerce.
Describe your family.
Ever since my mother passed away when I was 12, family has taken on a different meaning. I grew up without a father, but so many other kind people took a major role in my life that I consider them my family. In addition to my sister, Daisy Hart, I basically had two surrogate mothers growing up – Kathy Bendle and Marilyn Gallardo (“Aunt Tingie”). Their children, Amber Bendle and Jarrett Gallardo, are like my siblings, as well. My Aunt Brett Brown took on a major role at a defining time in my life, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her. Now that I am a little older, my family also consists of Dawn, my significant other, Sophia and Antonio – who I’m helping to raise (and scold when necessary).
What tribe are you with?
I am enrolled in the Native Village of Chitina. I am also a Descendant of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin – located about 45 minutes from Green Bay.
What are some defining/influential moments in your life?
The most defining point of my life was the day my mother Donna Hart (Goodlataw) died – Oct. 16, 1997. I can recall one of my family members giving me a few dollars to get a drink from the hospital cafeteria. When I returned, my mom had passed already. Now that I am older, I assume they sent me away so I didn’t witness the exact moment my mom passed, but I’ve never confirmed my belief.
After the death of my mother, it was basically my sister and I fending for ourselves (largely her). She became emancipated, went to school and worked two jobs in an attempt to provide for us. At that point in our lives, no one else in our family could really take on the burden of two teenagers, financially or otherwise. The moment I realized that no one was going to look out for us was very eye-opening and incredibly defining. As a teenager, knowing you have no one to fall back on can be very influential – it’s what has instilled such a drive for success in me. I credit my graduate-level education, financial and career successes to these defining moments.
What excites you the most about the Board’s work?
The future. I am incredibly excited about a future where Ahtna’s involved in a wide-range of businesses in and outside of government contracting. I am excited and hopeful for a day when Ahtna is so successful that it must own major office buildings in large cities, such as New York and Chicago. I’m excited by the potential future of Ahtna.
What do you want all shareholder-owners to know about the Board?
The Board is incredibly hard-working and dedicated. Since I’ve been on the Board, it has been eye-opening how long and late the Board will work to finish a packed agenda.
What message would you like to share with the youth of today?
“Focused attention beats brains, brawn and technology every time.” – Mark Sanborn
I like this quote because it reflects my way of thinking. You may not always be the smartest or the best at something, but if you’re persistent and focused, you’ll typically end up on top.
Can you tell me more about your work history and community involvement?
I’ve worked at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium for the past eight years – first in Benefits, now in Administration. Prior to that, I was an exchange safety and security officer – in essence, I would catch people stealing at the BX on base.
In addition to my day-to-day job, I own a passive income real estate business. I currently have four rental properties – three in Anchorage and one in Phoenix.
I’ve attempted to become more involved in the community. In addition to the Ahtna and Chitina Native Corporation Boards I serve on, I also serve on the Food Bank of Alaska Board of Directors and the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights. I also served on the Municipality of Anchorage Zoning Board of Examiners and Appeals. Depending on how life goes, I may run for office someday.